We’ve got nine steps you can take to reduce your risk of suffering from a stroke. But first, you need to know the facts about African Americans and stroke. Spoiler alert: Black Americans are at particularly high risk for suffering from strokes.
In any given year, 100,000 African-Americans will have a stroke, and stroke is the third leading cause of death in the Black community. If you are African-American, it’s important to take action to minimize risk factors.
According to the National Stroke Association, stroke or heart disease will claim the lives of half of all Black women.
1. Blacks have twice the risk of strokes compared to other groups.
2. Blacks have higher death rates for stroke compared to Whites.
3. The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans in the United States is the highest in the world.
4. Among non-Hispanic Blacks age 20 and older, 62.9 percent of men and 77.2 percent of women are overweight or obese.
5. In 2001, 27.7 percent of Black Americans smoked or chewed tobacco. Heavy cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person’s risk for stroke when compared to light smokers.
6. Black women have higher prevalence rates of high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes than White women.
You Can Lower Your Risk of Suffering from a Stroke
You can fight stroke – and win! By following these nine steps you can protect yourself against stroke.
1. Keep your blood pressure down. High blood pressure is the number one reason people have strokes. Since Blacks have a greater incidence of high blood pressure, it is essential to get it checked regularly, even if you feel fine. If yours is high, your doctor will tell you how to keep it under control.
2. Do not smoke. Smoking nearly doubles stroke risk. Quitting can cut the risk in half within one year. Quitting decreases the risk to a level similar to non-smokers after five years.
3. Monitor your glucose levels. Follow dietary guidelines and exercise regularly to prevent the development of diabetes. Blacks have a high rate of diabetes. Diabetes leads to an increased risk of stroke. If you have diabetes, stay on top of it. Treating your diabetes reduces the complications that increase the risk of stroke.
A person who quits smoking decreases his risk for stroke to that of a non-smoker after just five years.
4. Control your weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for stroke. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about changes you can make in your diet and lifestyle to safely and permanently control your weight.
5. Do not ignore your heart health. Heart disease is a risk factor for having a stroke. If you have heart disease, see your doctor regularly to mange this condition.
6. Eliminate stress in your life. Stress can induce high blood pressure and a myriad of other illnesses that have adverse health effects. Manage the stress in your life with exercise and relaxation techniques.
7. Manage your cholesterol level. High cholesterol levels double the risk of stroke in men. Make sure you know your cholesterol level. Work with your doctor to lower it if necessary.
8. Know your medications. Some medicines promote clot formation. This may increase your risk for a stroke. An example of a medicine that does this is the birth control pill. The pill can be especially dangerous in this regard if it is taken by a woman over 35 who smokes.
9. See your doctor at least once a year. Some of the key risk factors for stroke can be determined during a physical exam and discussion at your doctor’s office.
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